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44 percent say gun violence is related to easy access to firearms: poll

44 percent say gun violence is related to easy access to firearms: poll
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Forty-four percent of Americans say most gun violence is related to easily accessible firearms, according to a new survey from Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll released exclusively to The Hill on Monday. 

Another 29 percent of voters polled attributed gun violence to urban gangs, while 27 percent said mental illness was related to the violence. 

The findings come as two mass shootings this month reignited the long-running debate over gun control in the U.S. Eight people in the Atlanta area and 10 people in Boulder, Colo., were killed in the recent shootings. 

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President BidenJoe BidenVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected BuzzFeed News finds Biden's private Venmo account Kid reporter who interviewed Obama dies at 23 MORE urged Congress to pass meaningful gun reforms last week, while a number of other Democrats called for action on the issue, pointing to gun control. 

Many Republicans, on the other hand, have pushed back on the notion that gun violence can be solved with stricter gun control measures, pointing instead to making mental illness a priority. 

“Every time there is a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFormer OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Seth Rogen says he's not in a feud with 'fascist' Ted Cruz, whose 'words caused people to die' GOP votes to replace Cheney with Stefanik after backing from Trump MORE (R) said last week during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. 

The same Harvard CAPS-Harris poll found that voters were split on prioritizing mental health or gun restriction, with 52 percent saying improving funding for mental health should be a priority and another 48 percent saying putting restrictions on assault rifles should be a higher priority. 

However, 61 percent of respondents said they supported reimposing the assault rifle ban, while 39 percent said they were against reinstating the ban.

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Another 77 percent of respondents said the White House should ask Congress to pass legislation raising the minimum age for purchasing a firearm from 18 to 21 years old. Another 23 percent said they would oppose that course of action. 

"Voters remain broadly positive towards tighter and more extensive background checks, towards no gun under 21 and the assault rifle ban," said Mark Penn, director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey.
 
"However gangs and mental health issues outweigh lack of adequate gun control laws as the cause for any increase in gun violence. The voters also said that they are primarily concerned about gun violence and enforcement of gun laws in the cities over the suburbs and rural areas," he continued.
 
The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey of 1,945 registered voters was conducted March 24 and 25. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.